How Your DMV Driving Record Is Measured

January 27, 2012

Your driving record is an official count of any traffic violations, license suspensions and other information about your driving history. This is a public document and can be obtained by anyone, so long as they provide adequate proof of a reasonable need to view the record. Most commonly, employers use driving records as a part of the application screening process. When driving records are made available to someone other than the specific driver, sensitive and contact information is censored.

Which Violations Does a Driving Record List?
Driving records generally maintain information about moving and traffic violations only. This means that parking tickets, towing fines and other similar violations will not appear. These are typically the violations for which a police officer will pull you over and issue a ticket or citation of some kind.

It is important to note, however, that certain non-moving violations may ultimately affect your driving record. For instance, if you accrue a number of parking tickets and fail to pay them, your drivers license may be temporarily suspended. Because driving records do maintain information about license suspensions, your failure to pay the parking tickets would ultimately affect your driving record.

How Does the Record Keep Track of Violations?
Driving records are generally based on a point system. Different violations and suspensions are associated with certain point values. The more serious the offense, the more points are assigned. When a police officer issues a ticket for a violation, or if your license is suspended, that information is reported to the DMV and the corresponding number of points is added to your driving record.

The point values for each of the different traffic violations vary according to the state. This information is available for your location on the state DMV website or by visiting a DMV in your area. Similarly, the penalties associated with different point levels differ according to the state. In most cases, earning a certain number of points over a given period of time will earn license suspension of some kind. If you continue to earn points, your license may be permanently revoked. These penalties are generally separate from the fines associated with the individual traffic violations. Of course, certain serious traffic violations may result in major fines and imprisonment, amongst other penalties.

How to Get a Copy of Your Driving Record

Locate the agency in your state responsible for issuing drivers licenses. In some states, the appropriate department is the Department of Motor Vehicles. In other states, the agency may be referred to as the Department of Licensing (DOL).

  • Check for online access. Once you find the appropriate agency responsible for drivers licenses and driving records, visit the agency website and determine if you can request a copy of your driving record online. Some DMV or DOL agencies offer this capability to licensed drivers. Others may only provide information about locations where you can physically request a copy of your driving record
  • Request the driving record. Follow the instructions on the appropriate agency website for requesting a copy of your personal driving record. If requesting the document online, you will be required to enter your drivers license number as well as other pertinent information to verify identity. If you are making your request in person, the agency should have an application form that will need to be completed in order to request a copy of your personal driving record
  • Pay the fee. If the state agency has information regarding your driving record on file, you will normally be required to pay a fee in order to receive a copy. The fee varies from state to state. In some states, you are allowed to periodically receive a free copy of your driving record. Make sure you're aware of the cost of the driving record before applying for it

Once you have followed all the requirements to apply for your driving record (and paid the fee if applicable), you should receive your driving record. In some cases, the licensing agency may choose to send your driving record in the US mail within a week to 10 days.

Ways to Get a Point Reduction on Your Driving Record

Generally, in order to get fewer points on your driving record, you need to wait the issue out, earning point reductions for every year that you do not acquire new ones. However, there are some ways to try to get a point reduction or lower your driving record related risk to help out with your insurance policy and overall driver rating.

  • Petition a judge. In some cases, a driver who has received points on their driving record can petition a judge for leniency. This goes along with contesting traffic violations as a strategy for reducing points. Possible errors in police activity or questionable circumstances around a citation can work in your favor if you are pursuing a petition or contesting a driving violation
  • Look into driver's ed programs. A wide variety of driver's education programs and traffic schools can help you get point reductions on your driving record. These include personal attendance programs as well as some online or home traffic schools. Check with various schools to see how their programs can help you get point reductions and clear your record for lower insurance rates and other benefits of a safe driving record
  • Check your driving record for errors. In some cases, your driving record can be amended for points in error. Make sure that your points are legitimate, and not some kind of clerical error that will end up costing you a lot of money and hardship on the road
  • Keep in compliance with vehicle requirements. Keep your vehicle legally insured, under inspection, and otherwise compliant with all state motor vehicle laws. Lack of adequate insurance is a common way that drivers with points encounter further difficulties, even leading to arrest situations on the road. Police will often arrest individuals with repeated infractions on auto insurance in order to crack down on uninsured drivers who cause specific liabilities to the state

How an Accident Affects Your Driving Record

This really depends upon which state or county you live in. If the accident is serious and you were at fault, the accident will go on your driving record and may stay there for some time. Each state carries penalties from one year to five years. If someone were injured, they can make an accident claim against your insurance company. You will also have to fill out DMV forms for more serious matters.

How an Accident Affects Your Insurance
The more serious the accident, the more points you receive on your driving record. These points are strikes against you as a safe driver. If you are at fault, your insurance rates may go higher.

License Suspensions
If the matter is very serious, your license could also be suspended or taken away. If you were driving under the influence, your license may be taken away for some time and you may have to attend traffic school. You may also have to pay fees and fines. It is always best to be a safe driver and look out for yourself and everyone else.